crime pays

Have I mentioned before that I was a weird kid?

While most boys my age were probably watching MTV or Alf, I used to listen to Golden Age radio shows, and I was into detective stories in a BIG way.

No surprise then that I tried my teenage hand at a noirish novel. The private eye's name was Charlie Madison, and he had a very unique sense of humor—due to the plethora of typos I made as I banged away on a manual typewriter.

One of my goals this year was to write a new Charlie Madison detective tale, but I wanted to take it in a speculative direction. The final product ended up being 10,000 words, and at that length, I wasn't sure where to submit it.

Then I stumbled across a link to Criminal Element on, and I figured, "Why not?" —without expecting anything more than a form letter rejection.

A month later, I received the following:

Dear Mr. Fowler,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a senior editor with Tor Forge Books and Liz Edelstein passed on your story for consideration of publication on the CRIMINAL ELEMENT site. I think that there is a lot of good material here but also think that it needs a bit of tweaking before we might be able to publish. I am wondering if this is something that you would be willing to do. If so, I can send you my notes.

All best,

Claire Eddy

Can we say . . . stupefied? A TOR editor was contacting me?

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to work with Ms. Eddy. After a couple rewrites, "Girl of Great Price" was accepted for publication, and I signed the longest, best-paying contract of my writing career thus far.